David Jungerman’s defense team expected to call additional witnesses Thursday in first-degree murder trial

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - On Thursday, David Jungerman’s defense team is expected to continue calling witnesses in his first-degree murder trial.

Jungerman is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the fatal 2017 shooting of attorney Tom Pickert in his Brookside front yard.

Jungerman’s defense team called a business associate and several investigators to the stand Wednesday. His attorneys continued to question police about how they handled evidence during the homicide investigation.

Jungerman’s defense has alluded to police having tunnel vision and focusing solely on Jungerman from the start of the investigation. Prosecutors pushed back on those references during cross-examination, suggesting police followed the evidence.

Jungerman’s attorney, Daniel Ross, spent much of Wednesday asking investigators about his cell phone records and data from license plate readers. License plate readers can capture photos of license plates and their locations around Kansas City. Ross asked specifically about license plate reader data from the day of Pickert’s homicide.

“At no time did you ever identify a white van associated with Mr. Jungerman’s registration of 6FA 453 anywhere close to the homicide scene in Brookside at 225 W. 66th Terrace, did you?” Ross asked. Kansas City Missouri Police Department Intelligence Analyst Darin Lee confirmed license plate readers did not capture Jungerman’s license plate, which was registered to his white van, on the day of the homicide near the crime scene in 2017.

During cross-examination, Jackson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Whiston asked Lee about the frequency in which stolen license plates are placed on vehicles during criminal activity. He responded that occurs frequently. Prosecutors also argued that, at the time of the homicide in 2017, Kansas City police had access to fewer license plate readers.

“He could have driven all over town and not driven in front of one of these license plate readers?” Whiston asked. “This isn’t going to capture anything if he doesn’t drive in front of the camera.” Lee agreed that was correct.

During questioning by the defense, investigators testified Jungerman’s cell phones were not used near the crime scene at the time of the homicide.

“The fact that a phone does not ping at a particular location tells you nothing, absolutely nothing about whether the defendant was, in fact, at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime, true?” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tim Dollar asked. Kansas City police officer Heather Leslie responded that statement was true.

Jungerman’s defense also questioned Leslie about video surveillance previously shown of a white van that traveled along the most direct route from Pickert’s home, where he was shot, to Jungerman’s home. Witnesses for the state previously testified they saw a man near a white van at the crime scene. Jungerman’s defense argued Jungerman’s van had a fuel gas cap on the driver’s side, which was not seen in a still shot of the surveillance video.

Is it the same van if it is lacking the fuel cap?” Ross asked. Leslie responded that she believed the picture in question was distorted or pixilated. “Is part of the reason you believe it is the same van is because you believe David Jungerman is the only suspect you had?” Ross asked.

During cross examination, Dollar went frame by frame and showed jurors how different, unique characteristics are visible in one frame and not visible in another based on the clarity of the moving surveillance video.

He showed jurors an exhibit that was previously shown by the defense. At the time, defense attorneys argued a dark marking seen on the surveillance was not visible on Jungerman’s van.

Dollar asked Leslie if, after viewing the moving surveillance video, it was clear the previously mentioned dark marking was caused by a shadow, distortion, or pixelation. “That was an attempt to mislead this jury, wasn’t it? That mark wasn’t on the van at all was it?” Dollar asked. Leslie agreed.

The defense told jurors during opening statements that they plan to prove the investigation included “sloppy police” work. They questioned if investigators followed protocol, what evidence was collected, and how it was documented and stored. Ross told jurors the van seen on surveillance was not his client’s.

During their opening statements, the state told jurors they plan to focus on Jungerman’s motive, his van, and his voice. Jurors previously heard portions of a recording in the courtroom. “Hey, you know, people … People, uh, know that I murdered that son of a [expletive,]” jurors heard Jungerman say on the recording. “The thing that sort of bothers me about me is, when I think about it, I grin. (Laughing) That mother[expletive] has caused me a lot of problems.”

Prosecutors say a chain of events that ended in murder began back in Sept. of 2012, when Jungerman shot a then homeless man who was on his property. Pickert helped the man, whose leg had to be amputated, win a $5.75-million judgement against Jungerman. Days before the 2017 homicide, prosecutors say Pickert filed liens on Jungerman’s home and business to ensure payment in the civil lawsuit.

Jungerman’s defense team argued that the millionaire could have written a check for the civil lawsuit judgement “many, many times over” and had obtained an attorney to appeal.

Stay with KCTV5 News for continuing trial coverage on Thursday.

Previous coverage:

David Jungerman found competent, first-degree murder trial expected to resume Wednesday

Day 4 of Jungerman trial suspended because of possible COVID exposure

Day 2: Jurors hear recordings of murder suspect David Jungerman, view city traffic surveillance videos

Jurors hear audio recording of murder suspect David Jungerman during first full day of trial testimony